The downsides of hybrid working for small business owners

Man on his laptop looking out of the window

Hybrid working seems to be the latest business trend, but is it right for your company?

Hybrid working can seem like the perfect compromise. But look a little deeper and things aren’t quite as perfect for the so-called future of work.

We have yet to see how hybrid working functions long-term and every business seems to be adopting a slightly different model. Some have all employees come in on certain days, some run an alternating rota and some offer true flexibility. So what is right for you?

Firstly, let’s explore what exactly hybrid working is.

What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working is a mixture of two extremes: office-based working and remote. Due to extreme opinions about how we and our employees best work, business leaders have created this compromise to get the best of both worlds.

Employees come into the office to work for a portion of their week, usually 1-3 days. For the remaining work week they go back to video calls and 20-second commutes.

Some companies give strict rules to their employees about hybrid working, for example telling them to come into the office Tuesday – Thursday every week. Other companies let teams decide when to come in together. Others give employees free rein to pick and choose when to ditch their pyjama bottoms for office wear.

We all know that remote teams tend to be far more productive than office-based ones, but some managers disagree. These managers see the office as an environment where they can closely monitor employees, so ask them to come in on days they see as less productive, like Fridays.

Two women working in an office, consulting while pointing at an i-pad or tablet device

Freedom of choice

Contrary to what you might read on LinkedIn, hybrid working isn’t the magical solution to your problems.

The choice of whether hybrid working is right for you is crucial. People feel incredibly strongly about how and where they like to work, so the wrong decision could see fewer cheers and more people handing in their notices.

Having a bustling office is every entrepreneur’s dream. But when it comes to making business changes that affect the day-to-day lives of your employees, it’s best to tread with caution and actually ask them what they want.

We are in the ‘Great Resignation’ after all! If your employees don’t like your decision, they can probably find another company that better aligns with their working style.

Downsides of hybrid working

1 – Strict policies can be insulting

If you offer true flexibility with your hybrid working policy, you’ll likely see much less outrage because you’re treating your employees like trusted adults. When you start demanding that they come in at certain times on set days, you might inadvertently undermine their independence and cause upset.

2 – Pressure on families

Hybrid working might be the perfect option for some people, but the parents in your workforce might struggle if they suddenly switch from full-time remote working to 3+ days in the office each week.

Childcare is an astronomical expense for parents of young children. Just one part-time nursery place costs parents an average of £7,000 every year, so any of your employees with young children will definitely feel a strain on their budget once you re-introduce office working, even if it’s only for one or two days a week!

There are a few things that you can do to make the change less of a financial burden: you can offer free childcare for your team members by paying the bill each month, a bursary to cover some of the costs or make your office more friendly for young children. Obviously having toddlers running around isn’t ideal, but space for parents to have a crib in their office for a baby might make them feel more supported!

Baby holding a laptop mouse

3 – It costs more

Now that we’ve looked at the costs for parents, let’s consider the cost of commuting for your other employees.

The typical worker spends 492 days of their life commuting to work, forking out an average of £37,399 in their lifetime. Every year that amounts to the average worker spending nearly £1,000 on train tickets or fuel.

When it’s laid out like this, it’s hard to deny that remote working is attractive.

To help your employees feel more comfortable commuting multiple times a week, it might be a good idea to pay for their train tickets and fuel as expenses!

4 – City life isn’t for everyone

Once remote working began to seem like a feasible long-term option for employees, lots of them ditched city life to live out their cottagecore fantasies. In fact, Rightmove found that enquiries from people living in cities about buying properties in villages rose by 126% in the summer of 2020 alone!

Whether you’re based in London or Brighton, the cost of living in your city will be much greater than the cost of living in the local rural areas. But some went further afield, buying homes in remote locations. Cornwall actually overtook London as the most-searched location on Rightmove in 2020, highlighting the shift.

Some of your employees might have been among those escaping the city, so commuting could be an impossible demand for them.

5 – Hiring limits

Finally, switching from remote to hybrid working will put limits on your hiring. You’ll reduce your talent pool to people within commuting distance, and you might even see a reduction in the quality of applicants because of this.

But we’ve discovered that hybrid and remote working are the top choices among young employees, so you will have no problems hiring local juniors if you know where to look!

If you need any help sourcing talented junior employees, reach out to our recruitment experts.

About post author

Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
Posted in Managing Juniors